January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15
By Bea Pila
The renowned American architect and interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined in spiritual union.”
As an interior designer, I am often asked, “What is your style?” I cringe at the question. The word design conjures the notion of a look or aesthetic, but for me it is all about emotion.
Growing up, my mother piqued my interest in interior design. What we lacked in money she made up with her impeccable taste. I thought we lived in a beautiful home; it was warm and inviting, and it represented who we were. When I went to other homes, I didn’t compare the contents. Instead, I compared them to my own in how I felt within. By age 15, I had single-handedly redecorated my bedroom and was hooked on interior design. It was my calling.
My first professional years in the industry were spent in firm settings. We produced beautiful work, but something felt off for me. Interior design pushed the ideals of luxury and exclusivity. Sure, I could commission the most lavish furniture piece or design a house akin to a perfect showroom, but at the end of the day do any of these things make anyone feel good, let alone feel anything at all?
I realized my role as creator isn’t about beauty alone. My original spark for interior design reaffirmed its influence on our feelings and behavior. This emotional component is what should be guiding our decisions, not the hottest trends. The rediscovery transformed my entire practice. I refined my process from beginning to end with my clients, looking to them as my source of design inspiration. It’s a journey so spiritual and powerful that I’ve come to call it “design enlightenment.”
This phenomenon may be a new term, but its philosophies stem way back. Mies Van de Roche, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Louis Sullivan—these are the masters of influencing behavior through architecture. Their work honors that we as humans crave connection with ourselves, with each other and with nature. Even with all the technology and distractions of today, I believe we innately still crave these connections. We just have to open our hearts and rooms to remind us of this.
Design enlightenment is rooted in authenticity. It is about discovering yourself, the lifestyle you truly desire for yourself and listening to these desires when designing your interiors.
Your discoveries may defy conventional ideas of how a space should be used—that is OK. The lifestyle of today has evolved so dramatically, yet we still cling to past notions of how a room should be designated.
Design enlightenment grants permission to free yourself of these notions. No matter how beautiful it may appear, an abandoned room has no purpose. I always say that these days the living room has become the least lived in, and the dining room the least dined in because we design them in the traditional way that we think these rooms should look.
Take back your spaces, and configure them in a way that inspires and promotes use of the space.
Bea Pila is an interior and furniture designer and author. She will be speaking more about authenticity and wellness in design at The International Surface Event 2018 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 30. For more information, visit intlsurfaceevent.com.